It's been a while, but Access Valentino is back and bigger than ever! I was lucky enough to see our latest artist perform a few months back, and I was immediately impressed. She stood out to me, not only as a great talent, but as someone with an incredible stage presence, a great personality and someone I believe has the potential to become very successful within the industry.
Introducing AV's latest featured artist, the extremely talented and lovely CHRISSI (remember the name)
CHRISSI was born in Romford, Essex, however draws upon her Jamaican and Trinidadian roots to inspire her song writing. She has also utilised her upbringing in London to shape her as an artist, which has had a direct impact on her music.
"It's very apparent that I'm from London when you listen to my lyrics... I make sure I emphasise the love I have for the city and its culture" - CHRISSI
I think I mention this quite a lot, but I think it's really important for an artist to provide an insight into their personal experiences, through their music. Expressing love for your city, as an example demonstrates how music can transcend from a standard listening experience, to providing cultural apprehension and awareness. Of course London is one of the greatest musical cities in the world, but what I really find interesting about CHRISSI, is how she fuses the sound of London and her cultural roots together. She explained to me that there are a lot of 'Island' sounding elements in her original songs, as this is what truly inspires her - this is when I was introduced to the music genre of Soca.
Soca was developed in Trinidad and Tobago and St. Vincent in the 1970s, becoming extremely popular for dancing, as a result of its rhythmic emphasis, use of drums and loud bass-lines. I did some research and stumbled across a few artists, including Destra Garcia Machel Montano and Kevin Lyttle (yes, the guy that sang 'Turn Me On') - they each have a different style, but are equally as fun to listen to. And that is exactly what I have found Soca to be - entertaining music that puts a smile on your face, and puts you in the mood to party.
Back to CHRISSI! When I discover a new artist, I think it's a great opportunity to learn more about their music, inspirations, aspirations and get deep with their creative process, i.e. what really makes the gears turn? When asking CHRISSI to describe her music in a couple of sentences, she said:
"My music has a very conversational tone. My lyrics are very honest and quite humorous at times. Some songs have more of a seductive tone, while others are playful and youthful. Even when tackling more emotional topics, they still sound happy, which represents me a lot as an artist"
I definitely felt this when seeing CHRISSI perform at a Sofar Sounds in London - her youthful energy really shone through. She performed a song called Trackies, which pretty much centres around a guy she liked that would always wear tracksuit bottoms to college - it was brilliant! CHRISSI made something so normal, into a comical, melodic and well written song.
"If I find a man attractive, the lyrics will flow quite easily... if a guy has pissed me off, there's probably a song about it" - CHRISSI
I just love this quote, not only did it make me laugh but it really allows you to understand CHRISSI as an artist. Her music is so relatable, which once again highlights how she is able to utilise her personality through her lyrics to speak to her audience. For me, if you feel like you know the artist, their music becomes even more special and important. CHRISSI is an expert at taking everyday, typical situations of young adulthood and making a song out of it. However, what truly inspires her musical creativity is 'love' - she believes her desire and passion creates a mindset, allowing her to write deep, meaningful music. Her latest single Lady Kisses, which is dropping on the 24th July is textbook CHRISSI to me. It has that youthful energy and a smooth, late-night sound, supported by elegant harmonies and a great bass line - I've listened to it several times now and let's just say I'm really excited for you guys to hear it!
As we all know, we're currently living in the midst of uncertainty, and although there are major global issues that we're fighting against, this is a music platform, therefore I wanted to raise an issue that has plagued the industry for some time now: gender disparity and the lack of female representation. It's pretty well documented that the music industry is still a long way away from achieving gender equality. In a study by Dr Stacy L. Smith, "Inclusion in the Recording Studio", Dr Smith indicates that across the three main creative roles in music: artist, songwriters, producers, women make up 21.7 percent of artists, 12.3 percent of songwriters and 2.1 percent of producers. I don't know about you, but I found these findings particularly shocking... and it doesn't stop there! In a large study by Northwestern University in 2019, it found that men release more music than women, men are signed by record labels more frequently, and men are given more opportunities than women to produce music.
As a young, black up-and-coming artist, achieving gender equality in the industry is very important to CHRISSI, even when discussing the matter of songwriting:
"I write about my sexuality a lot... it's no secret that when a woman explores these topics within their music, they can get labelled immediately" - CHRISSI
I think we can all agree that gender disparity is a problem in almost every industry, but highlighting gender differences within the music industry can really create a catalyst for change in many fields. Artists are not only role models for young people, but they have the power to change mindsets and facilitate transformation. A level playing field is essential for artists like CHRISSI, looking to break into the industry - her opportunities should not be limited because she is a woman and chooses to sing about sensuality! The industry needs to evolve, focus on talent, hard work and most importantly, become more inclusive.
"I would really like to see the industry become more inclusive to different images and not abide by certain beauty standards" - CHRISSI
Here at AV, we're super excited to watch CHRISSI's journey unfold. Her dream is to open a show for SZA and we'd love nothing more than to see that happen! She'll be releasing a couple of singles in the next few weeks and is looking forward to returning to the stage post-pandemic! In the meantime be sure to check her out at @mightbechrissy. She also runs her own live music company, known as Aloe Sessions - intimate acoustic sessions for people to chill out, listen to great music and become stress free. Keep updated with Aloe Sessions on Instagram for online shows and live gig dates... fingers crossed, we'll all be allowed to see some live music real soon!